Thursday, April 20, 2017

Seven Weeks

Head Hunger weight loss surgery

Harder to believe than the six week mark is the seven.  Still holding my own and trying to get it all figured out but it is, thankfully, so much easier and there are some results.  My daughter, for instance, came to visit last evening and she told me that there is a huge "difference" in my appearance.  So, I can breathe a bit easier.  I am not failing!  Oh sure, it has its moments.  I still get hungry but I am an avid reader of Bariatric forums and I know I am not alone.

Head hunger. That's what they, who are supposed to know this stuff cold, call it.  It differs from other hunger in that it is an emotional response rather than a physical one. Sorry, it is not what I have been experiencing.  Hyper-acidity.  That's more like it.  So, I am trying a new medication.

What bothers me most about all the "remedies" is the fact that I hardly ever took an over-the-counter medication.  Now, I have an arsenal of them. Vitamins and fiber pills and antacids to name a few.  My hope is that one day soon, I will have only vitamins in that arsenal.

The days of Spring that I had longed for are slowly slipping by without delivering their goods.  The weather has been the usual for Cape Cod in the Spring.  A no-show.  We have lots of chill in the air still and a thick white cloud fills the sky where blue is supposed to be.  It's hard to feel inspired and easy to feel that the fun days of Summer, those days spent spinning around in our swimming pool, will never show up.  Oh, they will. And I'm sure that I will be venting about how much I dislike heat and humidity.

For now, I just want those blue skies.  Oh boy, do I want to return to my life.  You know, the one filled with hope and promise and friends and laughter.  I'm tired of looking up remedies.  I'm bored with reading forums and trying to decide if the writers are telling the truth when they say things such as this....."I've lost 50 pounds since I was sleeved in the middle of February and I walk 6 to 10 miles a day".  My answer?  If you've lost 50 pounds in less than three months, you probably do not have the strength to walk 6 to 10 miles a day.  And when do you drink that water that the Bariatric people tell us we must take in every day, no sooner that one hour after a meal and no less than 30 minutes before. Oh, give me a break.....there aren't enough hours in a day!!!!

That's a whole other "head" something, don't you think??

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Six Weeks????

A six-week time span used to seem like a very long time.  At least that's the way it went when I was forty years younger.  But now, time has a way of flying by and six weeks feels very much like three used to.

I went for my six week post-op visit this week.  Progress report here.  I'm still living the Bariatric Life and growing more and more accustomed to having very little choice in the feed-me department. I'm still on what is known as Stage 4 and won't progress to the big 5-0 for almost two more weeks but then, in the light of things, two weeks is an incredibly short time.  I honestly don't know where the past six have gone and what I had perceived as ultimate challenges, well, that's kid's stuff and it's all behind me now.  If you had told me some time ago, that I would be living on liquids only, for two weeks, I would have asked you to have your head examined.  But, I did it.  And give up coffee?  Wine? Anything with sugar? Pasta? Bread? A glass of water with a meal? Yahoo!!!! I did it.

With my ever-present-sidekick Beth, up we went to Wareham for the big visit.  This time, I met again with a Nurse Practitioner.  She answered a lot of my questions.  She was very nice.  Some of what she said made sense.  Other things I'm not too sure about.  She told me that I can now lift more than 10 pounds.  Wow!!  My father would have starved if I did not lift more than 10 pounds every week. I survived.  Good grief.

The hardest part and I mean it sincerely, of this whole new way of eating, is the big "rule" that says
that one cannot drink a half hour before eating and close to an hour after.  I'm not thirsty any other time of the fact, I cannot get in the recommended number of ounces of fluid per day.  Water makes me gag.  That is, unless I am told that I cannot have it.  There are a few other "rules" that can be altered to suit the occasion and the individual but this one about drinking within eating times, it cannot be dissed.  I saw a perfect little video that really impressed me and I thought I would share it.  It gives you an idea of how a "sleeved" stomach operates and why, should we be dining together, I will not join you in a cocktail.  And, cake and coffee? Ask this guy.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Think ME

The hardest adaptation in the world for me is the one which demands that I think of myself first.
I'm totally unfamiliar with this type of thought and it is, I am told, vitally important that I adopt this new and different approach.  I've spent almost sixty years thinking otherwise.  I'm not self-absorbed and I was trained very well in the art of putting everything and everyone else before myself.  So, now it's time to think otherwise and it hurts.

I am so blessed.  I cannot even think of one thing irregular about my recovery from my Gastric Sleeve surgery and on Tuesday I will go for my six-week check up.  I'm waiting for my hair to start falling out but not a strand so far.  I have escaped nausea, vomiting, abdominal problems, fatigue and a gamut of other things I am told that others who have preceded me in this crazy thing have suffered.
Thank God, I am still healthy and hearty.  But, it takes a lot of work and a lot of thinking to maintain that status.

So, every day, from now on, I am going to think of ME and the things I will need all day to keep me strong and healthy. It doesn't work if I don't and I've had a few days to prove that to ME.  I left the house for a whole day yesterday with very few instant sources of protein.  Big mistake.  I can't go many hours without protein.  I do get "hungry" but not often enough and certainly not with the same urgency that my hunger once had.  My stomach feels empty at the appropriate times for the most part but getting 60 to 80 grams of protein in a day takes more than hunger signals.  It takes diligence and being prepared.  This morning, I did it again.  I knew my father's food supply was getting low so I took off, did some errands, and then did his and a bit of my own, grocery shopping.  Lunchtime passed and when I finally got to his house to deliver the goods, it was well past one o'clock.  I was grouchy, lethargic and in a full blown low blood sugar mood from which I did not recover until I ate and called Joe to blow off steam.

From now on, I don't leave home without my "supply".  I have a lovely little insulated lunch bag, one I bought especially for this time,  I also have a brand new set of plastic containers.  Think Bento Box.
I'll pack it up in the morning, pretending I am a child that I am sending off to school.

I am a child.  I still have a lot to learn.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Angel in the Waiting Room

I accompanied my Joe to an appointment at the plastic surgeon's yesterday.  Our dear Dr. Jones removed a benign cyst from his forehead.

While we were sitting in the waiting room, an adorable young woman bounced in.  She had a chic, short hairdo which I noticed at once, and a very nice body, topped off by a lovely face, angelic.  I watched as she wiggled her way into Dr. Jones' office and figured that she probably was going to see him for some breast enhancements.  She didn't look like she needed that or, for that matter, anything else in the realm of plastic surgery but hey, it's what she thinks, not I.

I've been a patient of Dr. Jones for the past four years.  He's my good buddy, having performed my breast reduction surgery, the one thing that on my death bed I will pronounce as THE best decision I've EVER made.  I love him. And, I love everybody in his office, including Jenny who does the scheduling for his surgical engagements.  I hadn't seen her in a very long time so she took five and came out into the waiting room to hug me and catch up.  I told her about my sleeve and how discouraged I was.  She related to me that Dr. Jones sees a lot of patients who come to him following massive weight losses, for skin reductions.  In telling me this, she referred to my bariatric surgeon by name......just as the young woman I had been envying, was within earshot. She stopped in her tracks and said "I'm a Dr.Kruger patient!"  What???

She took out her cell phone and immediately pulled up a photo of a very overweight woman who in no way bore any resemblance to the one standing in front of us.  "This is ME, five years ago" she proudly told us.  I've lost it and kept it off.  She was here for a follow up for her abdominal skin reduction procedure she added.

Well, I umbrella-hooked her right over to my chair and asked her how long it took before she lost weight....."Oh, a good five months before I saw any results"

I've always had a thing for angels.  I believe in them and know that they are out there, that they appear in various forms, just when we need them.  If we open our minds and our hearts, we will see them and even speak to them.  You see, God can't be everywhere no matter what He tells us.  He's too busy and I know He has better things to do than reassure neurotic people like me. So, He sends his worker-bees and I met yet another one just yesterday.

Thank you God.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cat's in the Cradle

What a mixed up set of emotions.

I usually take my father to the barbershop for his shave on Thursday mornings.  On Monday afternoon, he called and asked for me.  I was not home and Joe explained that I was working, filling in at my chiropractor's office.  His response to that, laughter as if it was the most foolish thing I had ever done. Working?  Me?  How very funny.  I'm not sure if it is his dementia or is it just that same old story.  I get laughed at a lot by my father, never taken seriously.  I often wonder if my mother and he had many a laugh at my expense in that sun-room that they treasured so much. The one I'm going to bomb after he vacates the house permanently. I honestly don't know why they thought that I was a good subject for ridicule but ridicule they did.  I think maybe it had to do with the seriousness with which I approached life.  Because they limited my ability to think myself able to do great things, I had to fight hard to get to where I got.  I held a job that should have belonged to someone with a much higher degree than I ever achieved.  I conquered fears and got myself to New York City, competing with the best of them in my field and I captured the flag.

Naturally, as the good daughter that I am, I called him as soon as I got in the door and agreed to take him to the barber the next day.  I didn't question it.  I just did it.

The next day was one of those torrential downpour days.  Not only was it raining, it was cold and miserable.  It did not set the mood for daughter-father-delight.  So, when I arrived at his home and he was seated in my nice warm car, I asked him why he had to go to the barber today instead of waiting until Thursday.  His answer?  "I had nothing to do".  My blood pressure? It really went through the bloody roof.  I had lots to do and driving through the wrath of God wasn't on that list.  I felt bad after explaining to him that this wasn't his best idea, he apologized, and said the words that I so rarely hear from him.  "I appreciate it"

No, I do not enjoy elder care.  I do not enjoy having to tell my 95 year old, adult parent to change his clothes, take a shower, and brush his teeth.  I know it is humiliating for him and it's tiresome for me.
I've raised my children and they are nowhere to be seen.  I'm in this alone.  My brother, when I appeal to him for some respite, sends me funny texts, telling me ridiculous things to tell our father as if our father has any sense of humor.  My brother doesn't spend enough time with him to realize that the part of his brain that would find some of this funny, is spent.  Gone with the winds of old age.

So, I exercise compassion.  I do what I have to do.  I get the job done and I feel guilty every minute of my life.  I wake up guilty and go to sleep guilty, wondering how other people escape this torment.
And every once in a while, I pull in the reins and a little song goes through my head, and I try to understand for just one minute that behind all that dementia or whatever you call the distortions of a 95 year-old, there's a loving, breathing human being who took care of me as a child.

Oh, times have changed.  Mine is probably the last generation to give a damn about parents and their needs as they age.  Joe and I are pacing the floor, talking about our options for the day when we both are "free" as if we were waiting for our kids to go off to college.  We both have elderly parents and we have no timeline on that next step in their development.  We're not looking at college catalogs. We're not planning vacations.  We're just waiting.

And at least once a month, we're told by one of our kids that they don't have any "time".......

Thank you, Harry Chapin

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Oh, so, it's April.  So, now it's okay that it rains every day, right?  And March, it did NOT go out like a lamb.  It roared it's way out like a lion, combined with rain, sleet and general misery.

I'm waiting for some consistently good weather and when I look out my bedroom window, the prospects seem awfully narrow.  Yeah, right, the humming birds are on their way and should arrive in a few weeks.  I bet they're smarter than that!

Every year we complain about the fact that Cape Cod does not usually experience a Spring.  But every year we forget that we said that the year before and many years before that.  We crash into Summer.

But I need Spring, I truly do.  Enough of the grey skies, the brown, bare trees.  Enough of the heat on, the blankets wrapped around my entire body as I sit in my old lady chair in the corner of my cozy bedroom.  Enough of my cozy bedroom, the drapes shut tightly on the slider.  I want to tear down the plastic sheeting that has been up since early Winter, blocking cold air from creeping in through that slider.  I want to take down the insulated drapes that hang on the kitchen slider.  I want to see what's outside because the inside is making me miserable.

So today, just for the heck of it, I'm tearing it all down.  Let the wind leak through the sliders, let the sky stay grey and the trees brown.  Today, I'm wearing my inside out and hopefully, Mother Nature will get the hint.  Enough already!

I'm going to paraphrase here but you'll get my point:  MR. GUARDINO, TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!!!!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Lose That Scale Already!!

I hid it but only from myself. Took it out of the bathroom and placed it on a shelf in the basement closet.  Oh boy, I'll never use it again!  Who was I kidding.  Every morning, instead of hopping right on in the bathroom, I stole down the stairs and got it out of the closet.  What a very un-smart thing that was.

The scale.  My nemesis.  The thing that rules my life?  Apparently.  If you insist on meeting someone early each morning and basing your entire day upon that meeting, I guess you could safely say that your life is being ruled by that "person".  My scale is very much a "person", one with enough of a brain to know that if I visit, I will come away with some form of emotional response.  So, like any other person who craves attention, it beckons me to get on for a ride, to pay attention to it and to consider it to be the most important part of my life.  That's what's been happening and it isn't a new story.

My mother was on a perpetual diet.  I grew up with the knowledge that food wasn't a very good thing, that it was okay for some people, but not for me and certainly not for my mother.  To this day, a whole array of diet books line the shelves in my father's den, almost five years after her death.  Together, we attended one of the earliest groups of Weight Watchers in our area.  Good God, I could not have been more than 12 years old.  The "numbers" were so important to both of us.  To me, because I was learning, to her, just because she had spent a lifetime up to that point, using the scale as a measure of her happiness or a reason to feel depressed.  She allowed that depression to become part of a viscous cycle.  Weight loss, happy and reason to continue eating plan.  Weight gain, a signal for depression and reason to eat as a way of compensating.  The scale, an emotional trigger. I knew the whole drill by heart by the time I was a teenager.

What is this total pre-occupation with numbers?  Why is the amount that we weigh so much of an issue that it causes us to weigh more? I understand the importance in the morbidly obese (but maybe they got there by scale-sabotage too), but why, why, why is it the be all and end all?  It's just a number, isn't it?  Does it make us more valuable if we weigh less?  How about self-esteem?  Aren't we happier when we are not burdened by what others consider "normal" or "acceptable"?  How many of us resort to food as a result of feeling burdened?  And tell, me, why is it that the first thing that happens during a doctor visit is the weigh-in?  Can we simply refuse?  Yes, we can.  And maybe more of us should.  Maybe we should start asking, "why is this important?".  Getting weighed is the number-one reason women avoid seeing the doctor.  Think of how many lives could be saved through early diagnosis and prevention if the scale were never used in the office?

I turned to my wise Muse this morning after I stupidly stepped on that damned scale in my bathroom and saw a gain.  Despite what the dietitian at the
Bariatric Center professed, yes, it is entirely possible to gain weight at this stage of my recovery from surgery.  I know what I saw. My Muse texted me this sage advice:


And if that wasn't enough:


So, I'm taking a well-needed break from that nasty scale.  I'm focusing on better things.  Spring is here and the weather is sure to improve.  I'm going to take walks, not for "weight loss" but for the opportunity to be out, observing the beauty of my surroundings.  I'm going to use that time to listen to podcasts, maybe some lively music.  But I'm not focusing on how much I might lose when stepping on the scale the next day.  I won't, because I won't be able to.  That scale is being permanently removed from any place I can access.  I should have done that a very long time ago.